Week 5 Scouting Notebook: No. 5 Iowa vs. Maryland

The Hawkeye defense is set to face off against one of the best passing offenses in the country.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa defensive back Matt Hankins forces Colorado State tight end Trey McBride out of bounds during a football game between Iowa and Colorado State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. The Hawkeyes defeated the Rams 24-14. (Jerod Ringwald/The Daily Iowan)

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

The No. 5 Iowa football team is in College Park for a Week 5 Friday night clash with Maryland — another undefeated team.

Maryland possesses one of the most potent passing games in the nation, while Iowa’s defense has prevented big plays in the passing game for most of the season.

Below is the DI’s full scouting report for the game.

Marquee matchup — Iowa’s secondary vs. Maryland’s passing game

Friday’s Iowa-Maryland game could very well be a matchup between the Big Ten’s best passing attack against the conference’s best secondary.

Terrapin quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa leads the Big Ten with 330 passing yards per game, and Maryland (4-0) as a team ranks first in the conference and eighth nationally in passing offense. Maryland is also the No. 3 scoring offense in the Big Ten. Three Terrapin receivers have already recorded more than 200 yards through the air in the first four games of the season.

Tagovailoa threw for 384 yards and three touchdowns, along with his only pick of the season, against Kent State last weekend.

“He’s looking down the field when he gets out there,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He will run it, but he’s trying to make a play, and that’s really scary.”

The defense the Terrapins will face Friday night ranks fifth in the Big Ten in passing defense and is the No. 1 scoring defense in the conference.

Iowa (4-0) cornerbacks Riley Moss and Matt Hankins have both picked off two passes this season. Along with Moss and Hankins, Iowa has three other experienced starters in the secondary in Jack Koerner, Kaevon Merriwather, and Dane Belton. This group, as well as the rest of the Iowa defense, contributed to Indiana, Iowa State, and Kent State all benching their quarterbacks in games against the Hawkeye defense this season.

When Maryland’s offense is on the field going against Iowa’s defense at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium in Week 5, it will be Maryland’s strength vs. Iowa’s strength. And something will have to give.

Terrapins lead the conference in sacks

Maryland’s defense leads the Big Ten in sacks through the first four games of the season with 16.

Iowa’s offense has allowed seven sacks so far this season. Up front, the Hawkeyes are still trying to find their most reliable rotation. Justin Britt is listed as the starter at right guard but didn’t play last week because of an injury. Kyler Schott, who was listed as the starter coming into the season but missed the two games of the season with a foot injury. Schott is still working to get back into “game shape.”

Freshman Connor Colby started at right guard last week and is listed as the No. 2 right tackle on the depth chart.

Whoever starts at right guard this week will be tasked with protecting Petras from the Terrapins.

RELATED: On the Line: Daily Iowan football staff picks Week 5 games

Getting to know the Terrapins

The Daily Iowan interviewed The Diamondback’s sports editor Alexander Dacy to learn more about Maryland.

Below is the Q&A. It has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

The Daily Iowan: Starting off with quarterback play, Tagovailoa seems to have taken a step forward this season. What do you attribute his early success to?

Dacy: I think part of it is just his comfort level. Because last year he came in and he was expected to be the guy. Obviously last year was kind of a weird year in general. But he only got four games to play. He had two really good games and two kind of shaky games. I think part of it is he’s just had an extra year to get through the normal process. He’s more comfortable with the program and the people around him. And pretty much all of the offense returned, so there wasn’t much turnover there. This is weird for Maryland because they don’t usually have a good, stable quarterback.

DI: Talking to a couple of Iowa’s defensive players over the past couple days, they stressed that Maryland has a really good big-play offense. How fundamental is it to Maryland’s offense to look for that big play?

Dacy: That’s the majority of their offense is the big play. They thrive on explosive plays. Dontay Demus is obviously the lead guy. He’s a big, physical receiver. He will get drafted after this year. He’s a good all-around receiver. He’s someone who will usually get those big plays. The other one is Rakim Jarrett, who can just absolutely fly. On the flip side of that, if they don’t have a big play they can set up, they’re going to throw a screen pass. You’ll get a very fast kind of up-tempo game from them. And again, it’s either like they’re throwing a 40-yard bomb down the field, or they’re just checking it down on a screen.

DI: Maryland is leading the Big Ten in sacks. What’s been working for the pass rush this season?

Dacy: It’s actually kind of been a surprise. The front seven was a question mark heading into the season. A lot of the guys are super young. There was a lot of unknown. I think part of it is comfort level, and part of it is the opponents. Howard and Kent State are not great. At least their offensive lines. I don’t know if they’ll have the same level of success against Iowa now that they’re facing the same level of talent. Also, that is the one area where they’re a bit banged up.

DI: What’s your prediction for how this one is going to turn out?

Dacy: This is a weird one. Because it’s strength versus strength. Maryland’s offense against Iowa’s defense. I think it’s going to be close. It will definitely be close. I’m going to say Iowa is going to come out with it in the end, but it’s going to be on a late defensive stand. It’s going to be a fight, something along the lines of 21-17. But if Maryland can crack Iowa’s defense a little bit, I wouldn’t be surprised if it tilted the other way.